Welcome!

Security Authors: Trevor Parsons, Pat Romanski, Lisa Pope, Elizabeth White, Gilad Parann-Nissany

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Security

Cloud Expo: Article

Software as a Service (SaaS), Security and Risk Management: Part 1

A SaaS Security roadmap

As cloud computing technologies and offerings mature and evolve in its services to customers, one common consumer use will be that of the Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

My earlier articles have touched on the various models, risks, security and forensics at several levels. There is also a plethora of resources available now that end users can educate themselves with that are freely available online.

This article will focus on aspects of security that impact the SaaS environment as developed, presented or augmented by me for several Cloud Computing projects.

Before we proceed in the subject matter, a brief clarification of what I refer to as the cloud follows. Keep in mind that this term "cloud computing" is now being used to describe a broad range of services to include product descriptors that sits outside the common definition of the cloud.

For ease of reference I will refer to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) [1] definition of which the following is a part. "Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction."

Over the years since the concept of Cloud Computing evolved we have seen an accepted concept of the "Cloud Computing Stack", with its three distinct categories: Software as a Service, Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service; where the IaaS Is the platform upon which PaaS rests and which is turn has SaaS rests moving up from IaaS to SaaS.

It is important to keep this basic stack in mind as the building blocks of the Cloud Computing system and not get distracted by all the "as a Service" spring up across markets as we proceed with this article.

As we move more and more services into the Cloud ecosystem, there will always be concerns regarding security. However a prescriptive combination of both preventive and detective controls at those data centers housing the IaaS ecosystem is on the path to security compliance and event mitigation. These controls, as a step toward better cloud computing security should be assessed and assured to meet industry tested security controls, as well as regulatory and policy requirements. The same format can be modified and applied up the stack to the PaaS segment.

However it is at the SaaS layer that we can perceive additional challenges with cloud security. One critical area of concern stems from the potential risk that a client's data can be exposed to as it is stored within the storage system of its SaaS provider. This risk can potentially increase in the event of the SaaS provider in turn utilizing the services of a third party IaaS provider.

While effective data center security controls are good for inside a data center, web-services or applications outside this area are a growing target for application layer type attacks. This can lead to the loss of critical to sensitive customer data as well as intellectual property and other corporate data.

A challenge for the IT security professional here is how to implement a level of protection that meets IT Security control requirements as well as ensures compliance with information security regulations, E.g. PCI-DSS in the case of transactions via web services.

In both the traditional environments and cloud services infrastructure environments, we have firewalls tweaked and configured with rulebase automation as a best practice. However in the dynamic cloud environment I believe that having to manage firewall signatures for example, amongst other issues could be challenging and counter-productive.

Essentially we would need to implement security in a layered approach which should include the network, servers, databases and coding, augmented by a system that should have a defined security process based on the SaaS environment and its functionality. This should be an additive measure to augment other monitoring and logging systems deployed to secure this environment.

This system should also have the ability to implement tools that will be able to dynamically learn the behavior of an application supported by an automated mechanism, thus removing the need for signatures in the case of firewall systems as mentioned earlier.

Within the SaaS environment we need to ensure adequate security in input validation by SaaS end users, effective user authentication and authorization, proper data segregation with security encapsulation for data in motion using SSL (3.0 or above) or TLS (1.0 above), effective software patching policies and procedures by the SaaS provider working with its software vendors as well as a key generation strategy.

(While SSL/TLS is encryption for data in motion between a Web Server and a browser is a good practice, administrators should disable weak algorithms and ciphers residing on the Web Server).

There must also be assurance for uptime or availability that is formalized in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Impact on environments supporting the SaaS ecosystem can be attacks impacting Network Security as well as the process for Backup and Recovery.

Researchers Bhadauria and Sanyal [1] stated "Two types of servers are used by SaaS: the Main Consistence Server (MCS) and Domain Consistence Server (DCS). Cache coherence is achieved by the cooperation between MCS and DCS. In SaaS, if the MCS is damaged, or compromised, the control over the cloud environment is lost. Hence securing the MCS is of great importance."

Another concern within this ecosystem is that of cross site scripting attacks that targets Asynchronous JavaScript and XML- AJAX [2].A best practice here would be to have a policy that ensures that all calls are verified with the Web Server and Service to ensure proper authentication and authorization before allowing the request.

Moving away a bit from the technology of security in this environment, Cloud Computing and SaaS on a whole was in its infancy and in some circles denounced as a viable IT service (no names called here, but a tech company leader specializing in databases and now cloud products comes to mind).

In terms of regulations that impact web services and by extension SaaS, we can reference the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) [3] passed in 1999, Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) in 2002 [4], and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule and Security Rule of 2003[5]. All three of these regulations, although important in their relative environments (e.g. Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Intellectual Property systems (IPS) and Human Resources Systems), were not crafted to include elements of a SaaS environment then.

As a result there needs to be finite and focused addendums or improvement to these acts as was in the case of SAS 70 to SSAE 16 to meet this technological evolution.

Of importance is that, despite the security measures and attestations provided by a SaaS provider to assure a client of their security controls or compensating controls and compliance processes in place to meet regulatory and security standards; it is still the responsibility of a data owner to maintain industry regulated requirements to comply with confidentiality, integrity, non-repudiation and security control over sensitive to critical information.

So the challenge here is to ensure that a cloud client requirement (Security Policy, Strategy, Data Provenance, Operational and End-User Security) is part of the discussion with the cloud provider and most if not all requirements mirror.

The designation of data classification is part of another topic and should be the influenced by the result of risk impact and gap analysis.

As a closing point the value of vulnerability assessments and penetration tests within the SaaS environment is an important tool for an independent set of eyes to present information that a potential attacker will find and use against the SaaS. This is not only related to technology as is well known due to the rise of social engineering.

References

[1] A Survey on Security Issues in Cloud Computing www.ijcaonline.org › Archives › Volume 47 › Number 18, Rohit Bhadauria; Sugata Sanyal, 2012

[2] Jesse James Garrett (18 February 2005). "Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications". AdaptivePath.com.

[3] http://business.ftc.gov/privacy-and-security/gramm-leach-bliley-act

[4] http://www.sec.gov/info/smallbus/404guide/intro.shtml

[5] http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/

More Stories By Jon Shende

Jon RG Shende is an executive with over 18 years of industry experience. He commenced his career, in the medical arena, then moved into the Oil and Gas environment where he was introduced to SCADA and network technologies,also becoming certified in Industrial Pump and Valve repairs. Jon gained global experience over his career working within several verticals to include pharma, medical sales and marketing services as well as within the technology services environment, eventually becoming the youngest VP of an international enterprise. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford, holds a Masters certificate in Business Administration, as well as an MSc in IT Security, specializing in Computer Crime and Forensics with a thesis on security in the Cloud. Jon, well versed with the technology startup and mid sized venture ecosystems, has contributed at the C and Senior Director level for former clients. As an IT Security Executive, Jon has experience with Virtualization,Strategy, Governance,Risk Management, Continuity and Compliance. He was an early adopter of web-services, web-based tools and successfully beta tested a remote assistance and support software for a major telecom. Within the realm of sales, marketing and business development, Jon earned commendations for turnaround strategies within the services and pharma industry. For one pharma contract he was responsibe for bringing low performing districts up to number 1 rankings for consecutive quarters; as well as outperforming quotas from 125% up to 314%. Part of this was achieved by working closely with sales and marketing teams to ensure message and product placement were on point. Professionally he is a Fellow of the BCS Chartered Institute for IT, an HITRUST Certified CSF Practitioner and holds the CITP and CRISC certifications.Jon Shende currently works as a Senior Director for a CSP. A recognised thought Leader, Jon has been invited to speak for the SANs Institute, has spoken at Cloud Expo in New York as well as sat on a panel at Cloud Expo Santa Clara, and has been an Ernst and Young CPE conference speaker. His personal blog is located at http://jonshende.blogspot.com/view/magazine "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."

@ThingsExpo Stories
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world. The next @ThingsExpo will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, California. Since its launch in 2008, Cloud Expo TV commercials have been aired and CNBC, Fox News Network, and Bloomberg TV. Please enjoy our 2014 commercial.